juli 20 - 29. juli 2023
Welcome on board our expedition where we will sail all the way up to the polar ice edge and towards the Sjuøyane - the northernmost islands of Svalbard and Norway. Experiencing the atmosphere, tranquillity, and sounds along the ice edge is one of the coolest things you can do, and therefore the polar ice edge is the goal and focus of this expedition. Along the way north, and later back south, we will spend several days along the northwest coast which offers us majestic fjords and mountains, glaciers, wildlife, and places rich in history and culture. These views and experiences will give us a bit of variety and contrast to the more extreme areas we will visit further north.
For this particular trip, the goal is to get all the way up to the ice edge and the Sjuøyane, which are the northernmost islands on Svalbard. How many of the seven Sjuøyane we reach will depend entirely on the ice and how far south it spreads. Maybe we can also reach the northernmost point and island of Norway; Rossøya! Most often, the ice edge is far enough north that we can reach all the islands, but some years that isn’t the case. However, it is just as exciting every year! One way or another, we are sure to meet the ice edge, even though it is in constant motion and at different latitudes every year and every week.
The ice edge around the polar ice cap is in itself some of the most thriving and diverse environments up in the high-arctic. Here we’ll find a rich wildlife both above and below water. Did you know that the ice even hosts its own specially adapted algae species that grow on the underside of the sea-ice? The polar cod, with antifreeze in its veins, are also an important part of the ecosystem here, which are hunted by seals and whales. On this trip we will experience an abundance of sea birds, maybe even encounter the very rare and nearly threatened ivory gull. And we of course also keeping a constant lookout for the queen of the arctic; the polar bear!
Along the northwestern coast we will be far beyond the areas normally accessible from Longyearbyen, and you will get to experience something completely unique - so it doesn’t really matter if you have been to Svalbard many times before, or if this is your first time to the “land north of the northern wind”. On the way up the northwest coast we sail past many fjords and glaciers; the most famous ones being Kongsfjorden, Krossfjorden, Lilliehöökfjorden, Magdalenafjorden, and Bockfjorden. Of the countless glaciers, the Kongsbreen, Lillehöökbreen and Monacobreen are the largest.
On Svalbard there is the midnight sun until mid-August, so it will be bright for 24 hours a day. You will have a great encounter with the beautiful and uninhabited Arctic landscape. Along the northwest coast there could also be quite some cod, which hopefully will bite and be useful in the kitchen, as we prepare delicious food underway. With the sailboat as our mobile base, we get close to nature and wildlife in a careful way, and we are flexible in terms of weather conditions and where we anchor and go ashore.
We don’t use just any sailboat on this trip, but rather our 70-feet expedition boat Valiente. She is a very steady and comfortable boat built in steel, made for sailing in arctic waters. The boat is well equipped and has a large outdoor area, a wheelhouse, and a 360-degree-view lounge. For pictures and more info about Valiente check out the link here.
SailNorway will provide the skipper and first mate (co-skipper), as well as a dedicated Svalbard guide with extensive experience from Svalbard. The crew-members will work as guides and polar bear guards when we are ashore in the terrain. Along the way, sailing or on motor, we will include all participants in the sailing. We will generally sail at all times of the day, and everyone onboard will be running watches of 4 hours on and 8 hours off. When we are at anchor we always rotate the shifts with one anchor guard awake, so that the rest can sleep.
An expedition with us to Svalbard is primarily an adventurous exploration, but also a great opportunity to learn about sailing and navigation, and not least the use of a boat as a starting point for explorations and experiences on shore.
Are you ready for a summer polar adventure with participants from all over the world aboard Valiente?
See our short film about SeilNorge recorded on this specific tour here!
The Arctic is a vulnerable area under pressure from people and climate change. At SailNorway we are committed to taking care of the environment as much as possible and we believe that small boats with few people and little pollution and waste, are considerably less harmful to the environment, climate and local wildlife, than larger boats and cruise ships. We also try to gather garbage at the places we visit, instead of leaving any traces behind.
Having the lowest possible carbon footprint as possible is important to us. We sail as long as there’s wind, and we target to have a sustainable menu, procurement, and waste management. Although we have to use engine power for moving forward when it is completely windstill, our trips are among the most sustainable ways to experience Svalbard.
On Svalbard we follow AECO's guidelines for encounters with wildlife, beach cleaning, cultural heritage sites and for arctic operators. More about AECO's guidelines can be read here.
If you are looking for magnificent views, respect the nature and would love to get acquainted to the most amazing species that have managed to cope with the rough climate, are curious about fascinating history of polar expeditions and mining, are happy to try out new things and adapt to the environment and meet bunch of excellent people with similar interests, then go for it. Unforgettable experience guaranteed :)
Day 1: The adventure begins!
We meet by the boat in the harbour of Longyearbyen at 14.00. We start with getting to know each other, before we go through the plan for the week. We get to know the boat and the equipment, and finish packing provisions and equipment. Life onboard requires cooperation, and before departure we go through routines and procedures onboard, for sailing and emergency situations. In Longyearbyen there is midnight sun this time of year, and we will make the most out of the afternoon and evening and set course towards Alkehornet, a mountain across the Isfjord. Throughout the night we continue our voyage on the inside of the island Prins Karls Forland, and through the narrow passage by Forlandsrevet.
Day 2: The world’s northernmost settlement
If we are lucky, we might get to meet a walrus colony in Forlandsundet already this first morning. A little further north we reach the inlet of Kongsfjorden, where the research town Ny-Ålesund is located. Here we moor for a trip ashore. Ny-Ålesund is also known as the starting point for Roald Amundsen’s voyage to the north pole with his blimp “Norge”. Kongsfjorden is considered to be one of the most beautiful fjords in all of Svalbard, so it is a great time to get our cameras set up and start snapping some photo memories. In the heart of Kongsfjorden are three pyramid-shaped mountains: Dana, Nora, and Svea - named after the three Scandinavian countries. The combination of the mountains and the majestic glaciers in the area make the fjord a truly breathtaking sight.
Day 3: Cultural remains on the northwestern corner
We continue north, to the north-west corner of Spitsbergen. Here, we sail into the Smeerenburgfjord, an area which got its name from 17th century Dutch whalers. This area has clearly visible cultural remains from the activity that took place in “Blubber town”. All the remains from before 1946 are protected areas on Svalbard. We continue towards Virgohamna, also with visible remains from the early whaling, but which also carries a lot of polar history: Virgohamna was used as a starting point for many North Pole expeditions. This was the starting point for the Swede Salomon August André’s balloon trip, and American Walter Wellman’s experiments with airships.
Day 4-5: Towards the ice-edge and Rossøya; Norway’s northernmost point
From the north-west corner, we then set course straight for Rossøya, the northernmost island on Svalbard and in Norway. Now it is time to start looking for the ice! If we meet the ice edge, we follow it eastwards and see if the sea opens up as we get closer to land. The ice decides. We sail calmly along the ice edge while scouting for bears, seals, and other animals. We could also have a good possibility to see whales along the ice edge. When we finally find our northernmost point, we will break out some cold champagne and find a suitable iceflow from the polar ice to celebrate! Who will be the first to go for a swim??
Day 6-7: Around Sjuøyane and southwards
We spend a little time in the far north around Sjuøyane, while we work our way nice and steady south. If there are less ice and we have enough time, we can visit many of the islands up here. Maybe we also get the chance to do a hike for some views towards the big glaciers at Nord-Austlandet, and the rest of the archipelago. In the end we always have to set our course south again, and we sail past Verlegenhuken, the northernmost point of the Spitsbergen island. If we have enough time we stop by the trapper station at Mushamna, with its well protected lagoon, for a rest.
Day 8-9: Back towards civilization
The last days with our course back towards Isfjorden, we adapt landings and shore-visits to the distance and time we have left. We definitely didn't have time to visit all the interesting sites on our way up along the northwest coast so we get another chance now. At the entrance to Isfjorden, the large fjord where Longyearbyen is located, we pass Isfjord Radio which is an old radio station - now it has been turned into a welcoming and cozy hotel. After passing Isfjord Radio, we will hopefully have time for a stop in the Russian mining town of Barentsburg; a special place with its own unique rhythm and atmosphere. If we are able, we will go ashore and spend the evening here and have dinner on land.
Day 10: Return to Longyearbyen and goodbye for now!
On the last morning we sail the final leg into Longyearbyen. We clean and tidy ourselfs out of the boat, pack with us all our stuff and disembark by 14.00. We however encourage everyone to stay at least until the next day with accomodation on land, so we can meet for a closing dinner in Longyearbyen on this last night. Thanks for a wonderful experience!
We recommend everyone that is joining us on a trip to/from Longyearbyen to staying an extra day or two before traveling home/before the trip starts. Longyearbyen is a thriving little Arctic village, with the raw arctic natre It's always smart to add time for some rest and calmness before and after such a trip, to relax and let the impressions sink in.
The program should be seen as a rough itinerary that we can adapt to the weather and conditions. We also reserve the right to change and improve our itineraries. We will have a dinghy for beach trips and small expeditions, fishing gear for cod, and gear to hike or make bonfires on the beach on all our trips - we are ready for adventure! Are you?
Deposit and payment
You pay a 6000NOK deposit when you book the trip, and the rest of the payment is due 60 days before the trip begins.
Travel - in general
Sometimes we have to fly, but not always. If you have the luxury of time, we always encourage you to travel as environmentally friendly as possible. Traveling slowly also allows you to start your holiday in a special way. Cycling, taking the train, or driving a car together can be good options! Feel free to add some extra time before and after your trip, since up north the weather can be unpredictable and might affect your plans!
Very few row to Longyearbyen, a few more sail, but most fly. Norwegian and SAS fly to Longyearbyen.
Safety and risk - in general
We take safety seriously and on our trips we train on handling different situations that can occur at sea. On board a boat and on trips, everyone must know what to do in potentially dangerous situations. For us it is important that you as a guest and participant are trained quickly enough to be a participant - not a passenger. It contributes to learning, a sense of achievement, and increased safety for all. It's also why our trips are considered to be sailing courses: you are trained to be one of the crewmembers on board. Feel free to contact us to discuss risk.
Safety and risk - expedition
On our expedition trips, we often spend multiple days on sea-crossings, and we sail into areas far from people and with extra risk factors, such as sea ice and unreliable navigations charts. This requires our crew to have extra focus and awareness of the potential situations that might arise. We sail in these areas only in the most optimal seasons, and use only our largest and most sturdy boats, which are both equipped and dimensioned to cope with this type of expedition sailing. We are fully aware that sailing is the safest and most accessible way to visit these very inaccessible places. However, sailing in general, and especially sailing in the Arctic and over the high seas, involves a certain risk that you must be willing to take. Feel free to contact us for a chat and guidance regarding risk.
Level of this trip
This is a trip for people who want to experience the Arctic, and the spectacular landscapes and the unique wildlife Svalbard has to offer! In terms of sailing, this trip is not very difficult, but you must be prepared for both calm winds and sailing in harsher weather. If you are a beginner, we want to make you a seaman/woman as soon as possible, and if you are experienced, you will quickly get more responsibility and greater challenges. The group and crew will be divided into watch teams so that we can learn from each other and help each other out.
As with all activities, there is plenty of specialized equipment and clothing for sailing. We do not expect you to buy lots of new equipment to join any of our trips, so, use what you have, borrow what you need from a friend, try to purchase used equipment, and if you have to invest in new equipment - buy quality items that will last. What you need is something waterproof and windproof on the outside, and layered clothing underneath. A pair of higher rubber boots for landings from the dinghy is very nice to have, in addition to slippers to wear below deck. Out on the high seas and in the Arctic, it is cold even in summer, so bring both swimwear and plenty of warm clothes. We will send you a detailed recommended packing list in good time before departure.
Food and cooking
On our trips you will be part of the crew onboard and get the chance to participate in all aspects of the running of the sailboat. This includes the cooking, where everyone is taking turns in the galley! Skippers and guides assist as much as they can along the way. Before the trip we set up a menu and purchase what is needed. We offer good menus with healthy “boat friendly” food. If you have allergies or preferences, let us know in the registration form and we will take that into account. During the trip, we often sail by a good restaurant or two where we stop and eat.
What we expect from you
We want you to take part in the routines onboard the sailboat, whether it is sailing, docking, navigating, looking for whales and icebergs, washing up, cooking, cleaning the boat, or contributing in other ways when required. You will be split into a watch team, with the teams working in rotations of 4 hours on and 8 hours off, with a rotating system to make sure that the night-shifts are divided equally among all watch teams. Our trips require a little work from the participants - and you must be open to contribute and open up a bit socially. We have many different people with us on our trips, and most people get along very well. Our experience is that doing things with others out in nature, and not least doing things with new people with different personalities than one might be used to, is what creates the best, most interesting and memorable stories :)
Life on board and accommodation
Life on board a sailboat is social and pleasant, but for some it can be perceived as quite intimate and crowded, which one should be prepared for. On our trips everyone participates in the operation of the sailboat and everyone is considered crew. We would like to get to know you well and hope that you will get to know everyone else on the boat as soon as possible. It requires some patience, generosity, and an open mind to thrive, but the new acquaintances and completely raw nature experiences will take your focus as soon as you become comfortable with life at sea.
Accommodation on the boat is part of the fun. The accommodation is generally in shared cabins, some of which have a double bed and some of which have bunk beds. Figuring out who sleeps where can be a bit of a puzzle, but we do believe we’ve gotten quite good at it. Let us know if you have any special needs or reservations.
We have plenty of heating and good food on the boat, but not always abundance of fresh water. This means it will not be possible to shower every day, but more or less every other day we are either in a harbor with fresh water or we sail through a place where we can borrow showers or enjoy a sauna. A morning swim in the sea is free and is available all year round!
What kind of people join this trip - and how many are we on board?
Many come alone, some travel as couples, and others travel as a group of friends. The common denominator for everyone is that these are fun and interesting people you will become friends with almost no matter what. Sharing grand experiences creates strong ties! Many people wonder about the age composition of our trips, but this isn’t so important to us. It doesn't matter if you are young or old as long as you want to go on a trip and intend to do your part in making this a great trip for everyone. Most of our participants are usually between 25-55 years old. The number of participants varies from trip to trip, but on these trips we are usually between 6 and 11 people.
Environment and sustainability
In general sailing is an environmentally friendly activity,, and we sail as much as we can and use the engine as little as possible. We encourage crew and participants to travel as environmentally-friendly as possible, and we use local ingredients and resources as much as we can. We also run trips where we collect litter and clean ocean trash from beaches.
Philosophically, we often say that sailing is an exercise in sustainability: we move with the wind and we have limitations on things like water, diesel, electricity and food. In order to run sustainably, knowledge, patience, flexibility, and hard work are required. The same can be said about many other things that one tries to do in a sustainable way.